Trial set in Fowler, Ohio paddling cases; Offers to settle the four lawsuits have been rejected. Trial set in Fowler, Ohio paddling cases; Offers to settle the four lawsuits have been rejected.
By Peggy Sinkovich
Vindicator Trumbull, November 2, 2004


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio A jury trial is scheduled for July 18 for a retired part-time police chief accused of paddling juvenile offenders.

Offers to settle the four lawsuits filed against James Martin, who was a part-time chief in Fowler Township and a police captain in Howland, have been rejected.

The civil trial will go forward in U.S. District Court before Magistrate George Limbert if no settlement has been reached.

Atty. Sarah Kovoor, who along with Atty. Alan Matavich represents four people who took part in Martin's juvenile diversion program, said the clients have decided not to settle at this time.

Attorneys for Martin and Fowler and Howland Township have made two offers to settle, according to court documents.

Last month, Martin had offered to pay cash settlements to three juveniles he paddled as part of the diversion program.

The former chief, who retired from the part-time police chief's job in July, also has made an offer to pay a juvenile who took part in the program but was not paddled.

Amounts offered

According to court motions, the chief was willing to pay $20,050 to Michael W. Harrington, 18, of Trumbull Drive, Niles; Robert J. McCrystal, 18, of Stillwagon Road, Howland; and Richard Thomas Woolf, 16, of Vienna.

In August, the chief had offered to pay each $15,000.

Both Matavich and Kovoor declined to say why they chose not to settle.

Martin was also willing to settle the case filed by Scott C. Villio, 20, of Oak Forest Drive, Niles, for $11,050. Martin had previously offered to pay $6,000 to Villio, who was not paddled.

Besides the civil cases, Martin is also facing criminal charges.

Martin, free on a $2,500 bond, has pleaded innocent to a 52-count indictment.

He is scheduled to return to court Nov. 30 for a pretrial hearing.

Charges

Martin is facing 20 counts of dereliction of duty, 11 counts of misdemeanor assault, seven counts of unauthorized photography, 12 counts of using a sham legal process, and two felony counts of theft in office, said Dave Toepfer, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.

Authorities said the charge of sham legal process means Martin showed juveniles a document that appeared official but in reality had no legal standing and was not lawfully issued.

State and federal officials began investigating Martin's juvenile diversion program in March.

The program used corporal punishment and was being operated out of the Fowler Township Police Department. Martin has said that his program was designed to help juveniles.

Martin also worked full time as a police captain in Howland for 32 years.

He retired from that position in May.

sinkovich@vindy.com


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